November 28, 2016 (JUBA) - The outgoing head of United Nations Mission In South Sudan (UNMISS) said the peacekeeping mission is not "finished" and lamented lack of peace in the war torn country.
Speaking to reporters for her last press conference before leaving South Sudan, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Ellen Margrethe Loej, urged South Sudanese leaders across political divide to put their nation first.
"We have not yet finished our job, we don’t have peace in South Sudan, we don’t have prosperity in South Sudan, but I think we all have to work for that," said Loej on Monday.
The resumption of violence in Juba in July aborted the implementation of a fragile peace agreement signed in August 2015 by President Salva Kiir and armed opposition group, the SPLM in Opposition leader and former Vice President Riek Machar.
Machar fled the country and was replaced in controversial procedures by Taban Deng Gai. Following what, the fighting has escalated in the Equatoria Region which remained peaceful at the onset of conflict in December 2013. In other areas, sporadic clashes are reported also.
Loej who took over the leadership of the peacekeeping mission one year after the start of the conflict in 2014 expressed her hope for peaceful South Sudan and applauded the resilience of its people. She regretted that the hopes at independence in 2011 have not been fulfilled.
"I am extremely depressed that their hopes and aspiration at the time of independence has not yet been fulfilled, the conflict that erupted in December 2013 continues to make many South Sudanese homeless, internally displaced or refugees in neighbouring countries and I am also worried about the threat to their security wherever they are and not least by the economic hardship they have to endure," she said.
More than a million South Sudanese have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, over 200,000 others sought protection at six UNMISS camps accords the country and millions others are internally displaced across the country.
Loej said the rival leaders must end the war.
"I urge all South Sudanese and especially the leaders of South Sudan to put the well-being of their people, including the the boys and girls [first]," she said.
The conflict has increased food insecurity and nearly half the country’s 11 million people need help from humanitarian organizations.
Loej expressed hopes that with peace South Sudanese take care of their families, develop their country, and that South Sudan becomes a prosper country.
"It is possible because South Sudan is such a rich country in terms of resources and fertile land and when I am flying up country I am always surprised to see all that fertile land and there is not anything, it’s not being harvested, that you are not growing your own food," she said.
Loej met President Kiir in Juba on Monday to bid him farewell. She announced her intention to quit the job in October at the end of November.
Initially, she had planned to leave South Sudan at the end of her contract last August, but the July crisis forced her to extend her mandate until the end of November.